According to Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson’s research, eighty to ninety percent of North American churches are declining. There are many reasons for how churches get stuck in plateau and decline, and Ed and Mike list them in what they call the “Dirty Baker’s Dozen.” These include for example, churches that are stuck in a time warp, that function merely as an institution, or that feel they can’t compete with the megachurches around them and therefore have given up trying.
Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned Around and Yours Can, Too did a study on over 300 churches that experienced a significant turnaround following years of decline or plateau. This book notes several common denominators that were identified to make it possible for these churches to turn around, and Ed and Mike guide churches back to the basics, to the foundation of our beliefs and an emphasis on spirituality and prayer. Real stories of real churches that followed these principles are woven throughout the book.
Strong leaders who are secure in sharing the ministry and who have an accurate assessment of the culture around them are essential ingredients to the comeback church. Renewed belief in Jesus, servanthood, and strategic prayer are three “faith factors that help a church regain a missional focus.” Finally, worship, evangelism, and connecting people matter, they are contributing factors to positive change and growth.
Comeback Churches offers hope and real, tangible solutions for how stagnant and declining churches can comeback in an age and culture where the winds of change seem to be snuffing them out. It is a wonderful blending of practical advice, common sense, statistical research, and professional experience. I not only recommend this book to anyone whose church is in need of resuscitation and revitalization, but to all churches and leaders as well, that we may retain the essence of vibrant faith communities.